Grove (17) vs. Devizes (21)
Grove thwarted by lack of expected wind advantage.
Grove fell victims to the atrocious weather on Saturday not helped by losing their scrum half to a red card in the second half.
With the wind at almost hurricane force Grove won the toss and decided to play into the face of the gale, clearly hoping to weather the storm, keep Devizes scoring within reach, and then take advantage of the conditions in the second half.
Three minutes into the game Devizes won a penalty and with the wind behind had no trouble putting it over for a 0 : 3 lead. Grove pushed back into the Devizes half and wing Guy Nicholl make a superb charge for the line but was stopped just short. The ball was however spun to scrum half Joe Chivers who made a straight dart for the whitewash and Grove were 5 : 3 up after 10 minutes, the conversion being virtually impossible to kick accurately. Grove came strongly again but were driven back by the Devizes pack and another penalty was awarded, this time the wind taking the ball wide of the posts. Devizes stayed on top and developing a massive overlap fired the ball to their left wing who ran over to touch down in the corner for an unconverted try. The score thus moved to 5 : 8 in Devizes favour. Awarded another long range penalty the visiting fly half used the wind beautifully to score a great penalty kick and to advance their lead to 5 : 11 after 27 minutes. Grove stormed back with great attacking work from prop Cash Chivers, hooker Steve Dixey, centre Tom Clipsham, flanker Joe Bellinger and fly half Roger Sevier who fired the final pass to Nicholl to go over in the corner and take the score to 10 : 11. Again the conversion attempt was futile. Devizes came back and advanced to the Grove try line and with a solid drive touched down for a half time score of 10 : 16. Grove at the same time lost scrum half Chivers to a yellow card for 'coming in at the side'.
On the turnaround Grove felt their plan was working. Devizes had the lead but were well within reach given the now favourable wind conditions for the home side. In addition Devizes almost immediately lost their open side flanker to a yellow card to even up the numbers. Grove pressed hard with centre Nick Sevier, No. 8 Rory Gratwohl and lock Richard Haire making good territorial gains but Devizes defended well until finally conceding a series of penalties on their own try line. From one of these infringements the visitors wre reduced to 13 men when another yellow card was issued. Luckily Devizes had avoided a penalty try but with Chivers returning for Grove and now with numerical superiority, Grove went back into the lead through full back Huw Lewis who dived over between the posts. Roger Sevier's conversion putting Grove in front 17 : 16. Apart from the pitch now being in almost total darkness all seemed well in the world for Grove with their tactical plan working but then everything changed! Firstly the wind, and with it Grove's weather advantage, died to be replaced by continuous, torrential, freezing rain and hail. At the same time Joe Chivers received a second yellow, thus automatic red card to leave Grove with just 14 men for the remainder of the game. The weather now became so bad, so quickly, that virtually all supporters from both sides deserted the pitch for the clubhouse. Nevertheless play continued but now with no weather advantage to either side and the pitch very fast becoming unplayable, Devizes moved up to the Grove try line where they remained camped for some 20 minutes before firing the ball to their right wing who went over for the final score of the day. It was all over for Grove who came away with just a losing bonus point from a game where a good win had definitely been the expectation. All in all a very miserable and unsatisfactory afternoon for Grove who as a result are nearing the relegation zone.